‘It came and grabbed him’

2010-01-13 00:00

FISH HOEK — “It came from below and grabbed the man. Part of his body was gone”, a woman who watched in horror as a shark ripped apart a tourist from the DRC in Fish Hoek told reporters yesterday.

The victim was Roy Skinner (37), formerly from Zimbabwe, who was on holiday in Cape Town for the month to attend his partner’s daughter’s wedding.

NSRI spokesman Ian Klopper said Skinner was attacked at about 3.15 pm as he stood in waist-deep water about 100 metres from the beach, busy adjusting his diving goggles. Later, lifeguards could find only the goggles.

Alison Kock from the Shark Spotter Programme and Shark Centre in Kalk Bay said Skinner was presumably attacked by a Great White shark. “They are capable of such an attack,” she said.

A witness, Kathy Geldenhuys from Fish Hoek, who was sitting on the beach and saw the attack, said Skinner was in the water up to about his waist. “He was standing near the rocks and my husband said, ‘If a shark should go there now, he wouldn’t have a chance’.”

Just after her husband said these words, they saw an “incredibly big” shark attacking the man. “It came from below and grabbed the man. Part of his body was gone.”

Geldenhuys said the shark turned around and pulled the rest of the man’s body down into the water.

“I yelled: ‘There’s a shark in the water, there’s a shark’. There were about 30 people in the water then. They only got out of the water when I started yelling.

“There where the man had been standing, the water was dark with blood.”

She said she ran to the lifeguards’ club house. They immediately sounded the sirens and hoisted the white flag that indicates sharks have been spotted.

Kock said two witnesses confirmed how the attack took place.

She said the black flag was flying at the time, which indicates the visibility is poor for the shark spotters. Over the past two weeks, only one shark has been spotted near Fish Hoek, she said.

Police spokesman Inspector November Filander confirmed the incident, but couldn’t confirm the victim’s name. He did say that Skinner’s partner is being treated for trauma.

Last night, search teams searched in vain for Skinner’s body. The search will continue this morning.

Howard Gold from the city council’s coastal management unit said all swimming beaches from Glencairn to Muizenberg have been closed until further notice.

Keith Matthews, spokesman for WP Lifeguards, said a warning has been raised from Strandfontein to Mnandi, but the beaches aren’t closed. He said there were three shark sightings near Mnandi’s swimming beach last month.

“Swimmers were immediately asked to come out of the sea,” he said.

The city council and the NSRI sent out a warning yesterday, shortly before the incident, to warm swimmers and surfers about the increasing number of sharks near the coast in False Bay, especially between Sunrise beach and Fish Hoek.

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